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Aug 09

Over in six days

Mayon evacuations gear up, as Philvocs points out four out of six of the country’s most dangerous volcanoes are acting up.

Passage cancelled: no slow boats to Lebanon.

Up to 17,000 nursing graduates affected by nursing board exams mess.

Index
Impeachment reports: Well done, good and faithful servants. The Palace predicts it will all be over in six days. Whatever happens, bravo to those behind the surviving filing. And go ahead, write your congressman.

Palace puts an end to brief second honeymoon with Senate. Read Memorandum Circular No. 108, and tell me it’s not E.O. 464 warmed over.

The Daily Tribune asserts a Nixon-like coverup policy is officially in place.

I don’t want to comment on the Palace proposal to exhume those counting machines so they can be used for next year, until I understand the technical pros and cons more. But if Philippine Commentary is any guide, there’s something fishy about the idea.

Poro Point problem.

One slot on my list of senators to vote for is filled up: Sonia Roco to run (hat tip to Philippine Politics 04).

Singapore government bears down on a critical magazine. In Cuba, Christopher Hitchens asserts, a coup has taken place.

In the punditocracy, my Arab News column for this week is Leadership: The Fundamental Problem Bedeviling Us.

The Inquirer editorial says the media’s been gagged: although there was radio coverage yesterday, there wasn’t TV coverage and there’s no substitute for live images. Manuel Buencamino has his own take on why the House wants to veil itself.

Lito Banayo on political scuttlebutt: election fever’s gripping the pols.

Dan Mariano: Zenaida Seva says World War III begins September. Greg Macabenta: an emotional network now binds Filipinos to populations all over the world, and that’s great. Gail Ilagan on strong women and weak men. Bong Austero’s frustrated with stubborn Filipinos.

In the blogosphere, Snow World explains he, and others, are for charter change -but most definitely not the “people’s initiative.”

blurry brain points out how other countries are contemplating reining in, or blocking, greater foreign access to their economies; also notes how there is criticism of parliamentary systems for “mafia-like” leader selection.

AlterNation101 says media’s protective of the interests of Danding Cojuangco, the Marcoses, etc.

mongster’s nest has been maliciously impersonated on other blogs.

Washington Note points to a new book on American foreign policy.

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16 comments

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  1. paeng

    MLQ3, aside from being the wife of the great senator, ano pa kayang qualifications ni Sonia? any background info on her that you can share?

  2. comelecAKO

    i would like to help you understand the “technical pros and cons,” MLQ3. Maybe I can answer some of your questions.

  3. DJB

    MLQ3,

    I’d rather have the 1.2 billion pesos BACK!

    So we can build a real automated election system just as good as the automated teller machine system that manages many people’s finances. Just as secure, just as accurate, just as fast, just as VERIFIABLE by anyone anytime. Just as trustworthy. (But only just).

    Why did the Supreme Court nullify the contract for the Abalos Automated Counting System? Because there never was 1.2 billion pesos worth of gear there and Art Panganiban was technically savvy enough to have spotted that: just a bunch of optical mark readers hooked up to PCs worth maybe 100 million pesos or less. They would’ve could’ve should’ve maybe worked, but it would still have gypped the govt of hundreds of millions of pesos. Worse, such an automated system is nothing more than an electronic mimicry of the SAME OLD DIRTY electoral system, step by cheatable step of 250000 precincts with a MULTISTAGE CANVASS that should be got rid of, not CDROM-ed! Guess what: that’s the system Macalintal has started to sell for 2007.

    BTW isn’t it true that the DOST only claimed that 100 percent of the MACHINES passed the required accuracy level of 99.995 percent AFTER the Comelec reduced the ORIGINAL required accuracy of 99.9995 percent (ten times more accurate).
    Short explanation: the Comelec moved the goalposts so the MPC machines would pass.

    But this point about the machines passing or not is really trivial. The overall system design is flawed in numerous and obvious ways, the main one being its strict preservation of the existing system but using CDROMs, dot matrix printers and other icons of a bygone high tech age of the late eighties.

    We should get the money back and buy a real automation system. One that completely redesigns the mechanics and dynamics of the electoral system from registration to polling to canvassing to proclamation.

    Otherwise could your audience stand to live in a democracy where GMA claims to have been the President that automated the Philippine elections? (with optical mark readers at that! Sorry to use this expression on such a serious blog, but “TEE HEE!”)

  4. Jon Mariano

    Is the Supreme Court’s decision against the Comelec-MegaPacific contract reversible? Is that what the Comelec, and the admin is trying to do here?

    It’s a disgrace for the high court if it ever happens. It’s an act of disrespect what Makalintal and whoever he’s working for is doing right now trying to circumvent the SC’s decision. I would be very happy to see these people slapped with the court’s contempt. I won’t mind seeing Davide do it physically too!

  5. Helga

    M, Gus Lagman, Maricor Akol, and other members of the ITFP are planning a press conference early next week to tackle the Mega Paciifc and Automated Counting Machines dispute. Will post a bulletin on it over the weekend.

  6. comelecAKO

    In the meantime, Helga, why didn’t they show up at the clarificatory hearings at the Ombudsman? That was the best opportunity for them to show everyone that they are right about the ACMs. Why pick a press con over the Ombudsman? Isn’t these Ombudsman investigations what they’ve been agitating for? I hope you read this post and enlighten me.

  7. comelecAKO

    DJB, you mention obvious flaws but the main one is that it doesn’t use enough modern bells and whistles? I thought that we shouldn’t modernize simply for modernization’s sake? That modern technology should complement existing tech while leaving the future open for further development? I would dearly love to hear what these other obvious flaws and defects are, if the main flaw be so shallow.

    I would agree that the automation system as designed for 2004 can be improved (why the heck not?) but to have such a sweeping condemnation of it – with nary a basis in fact – seems to me to be uncalled for. For instance, you seem to think that the 1.2 billion price tag all went to the counting machines. This is simply not so. And that’s the crux of the problem really. Everyone and his mother seems to think that it’s OK to just rely on the press releases and the sniping from the sidelines, without bothering to hear the whole story.

    The ACMs were up to speed. The DOST said that. The system was fine. Several IT industry professionals said that. I have yet to hear anyone argue intelligently with their conclusions. All I have heard so far are ad hominems repeated ad infinitum, ad nauseam; and, of course, the never ending variations of “I have a better idea.”

  8. comelecAKO

    Jon, Makalintal isn’t working for the COMELEC. And Davide voted against scrapping the contract.

  9. cvj

    Postigo, i agree with DJB. Within the IT industry, there is a well known saying that ‘if you automate a mess, you get an automated mess’, hence the focus should be on streamlining the process prior to system design. He pointed to ‘multistage canvass’ as a potential point of delay and fraud. Also, it seems that ‘verifiability’ at the precinct level is not one of the things we will get for 1.2 billion pesos.

  10. Helga

    comelecAKO, my personal knowledge is that Gus Lagman, a co-convenor of the Black & White Movement and past president of ITFP, was out of town till this past Sunday. It would be strange if their counsel were not present at the very least.

  11. comelecAKO

    Thanks for the info Helga, but I think even his counsel wasn’t there. As for Akol, would you know if she was out of the country as well?

  12. comelecAKO

    cvj, the key words in your post are “potential” and “seem.” I agree that a multi-stage canvass is a vulnerability of the system. Which is why we are campaigning very hard (albeit not in the public eye) to do away with that system which – unless I am sorely mistaken – was an innovation introduced during the Senatorial elections under the Cory government.

    As for the lack of verifiability DJB keeps mentioning, part of the modernization plan for 2004 was the use of electronic transmission. Electronic transmission would have hooked the counting machines up to transmitters that would have regularly broadcast results (from the local counting centers) to a National Consolidation Center here in manila; a center secured not so much by police and military but by the glare of public scrutiny since a media center would have been created right in the middle of the damned thing, and feeds would be made available online.

    The same game plan would be followed if the amendments to 8436 push through.

    Why wasn’t this done in 2004? Because the Supreme Court blocked the implementation saying that the law wasn’t clear enough to allow electronic transmission. Panganiban tech-savvy? Oh please.

    That’s the problem. People who don’t know the whole story should try to get a clearer picture of the situation first. There is nothing more dangerous than uninformed opinion masquerading as expert testimony.

  13. cvj

    Postigo, thanks for the clarification. Where would the local counting centers be located and is there traceability (for auditing purposes in cases of dispute) between the precinct tallies (i.e. individual ballot box) and the figures that are to be electronically transmitted to the National Counting center? Expert testimony is essential but it is also important that the end user (i.e. the ordinary citizen) understand the workings of the system to determine whether it can indeed be trusted. This matter is too important to just leave to the experts.

  14. number cruncher

    paeng, i found this blurb on sonia roco on raul roco’s website.

  15. Gus

    I only chanced upon this blogsite while looking for something unrelated. No offense meant, Manolo. I, unfortunately, do not have the time to be an active blogger of any blogsite at this time. Maybe in the future.

    Anyway, I just want to respond to one very specific question that I noticed while scanning some of the comments. Why didn’t I, nor the other petitioners, nor the lawyer, appear during the hearings conducted by the Ombudsman, despite the invitations that were sent to us?

    When this issue was first brought out, I checked with my secretary if I received any invitation. None. I checked with our household help if there were letters that they omitted giving to me. None.

    I called the other 7 petitioners if they received an invitation from the Ombudsman. No.

    I called our lawyer to ask if he received an invitation from the Ombudsman. No.

    While doing my investigation, I learned a couple of things:
    1.Some judicial bodies would sometimes intentionally send subpoenas to the wrong address, then later arrest a person for contempt or for ignoring the subpoena. I couldn’t believe it, but apparently these things happen not too infrequently.
    2.Our official address from the time that we, the 8 petitioners, appeared before the Ombudsman in February, 2004, just about a month after the Supreme Court decision, is our lawyer’s office address. All official correspondence with us should therefore be sent to that address. That address is known to the Ombudsman. In fact, our CORRECT individual addresses should also be in their files.

    So, obviously, the Ombudsman, IF they really sent out invitations to us, sent them to the wrong addresses, intentionally, or otherwise.

    But, actually, they didn’t even need us there anymore. The eight of us, petitioners, already gave our testimonies to the Ombudsman during that meeting with them in February, 2004. We even named the people they should charge and the people they can invite to testify.

    For the Ombudsman, this should have been a very simple case. One does not even have to be lawyer; all one needs to do is read the Supreme Court decision.

    This case has dragged on for almost four years now. A lot of lies have been spread around to discredit us. This lie about our non-appearance in the Ombudsman hearings is only one of many.

    Just consider this: The Comelec spent P2.3 billion of taxpayer money — P1 billion for Phase 1, and I don’t know what good it has done (they promised Voters’ IDs, where are they?), P1 billion for Phase 2, which money has not been returned despite the SC’s directive, and P300 million for Phase 3, which never took off the ground.

    If this happened in some other countries, those responsible for this anomalous transaction would long ago been put behind bars.

    Now, ask yourselves this question: Who would do the lying? Them, or us? A no brainer, indeed.

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